“The Best Opening Ever”

The Challenge and Strategy
Mark Shale, the Chicago-based retailer of updated traditional clothing for men and women, relied only on the impact that public and media relations would generate for its new store openings. Mark Shale typically didn’t advertise; its only “advertising” is the referrals and loyalty its incomparable service and quality merchandise generate.
  • The store would be launched with a grand opening event. An invitation was sent to 2,000 existing Shale customers in the area. An additional 3,000 invitation went out to individuals whose demographics matched those of current customers.
  • Two weeks prior to the party, we prepared and disseminated a general introductory press release to alert the print and broadcast media to Shale’s pending arrival. The piece was followed by calls to those on the media list.
  • The event was designed to generate on-the-spot and follow-up sales. To do so, each party guest was given a personalized $25 gift certificate. Party canap?s, wines and waters were strategically located throughout the selling floors. Guests browsed and bought to the strains of a trio. The event was vintage Shale with over 2,000 celebrants in attendance.
  • One week before the opening party, a media kit and media alert were sent to the media list in order to:
    • Debunk the myth that Shale’s clothing was just like the “others” -- only pricier.
    • Generate interest in Shale’s opening week activities/showings/designer and manufacturer receptions.
    • Generate general business and news coverage of the store, during its opening period and beyond.
    • Position the president of the company and the store manager with media/press representatives as expert resource people concerning the retail sector of the economy.
  • Follow-up calls ensured the continuing presence of the store in the media. They also provided opportunities to offer exclusive coverage of various opening week events.
  • To ensure the store’s continuing success, holiday Sunday afternoon theme parties with refreshments, free gifts, and entertainment were staged during its initial year.
  • We also developed, implemented, and publicized the first-ever store network Special Occasion Gift Registry that enabled customers throughout the U.S. to give a gift tailored to the recipient, who had actually registered his/her “wish” list with Shale.
  • Print and broadcast media responded with great enthusiasm to the store’s arrival and opening.
    • Three radio spots -- all drive time -- were achieved. The top station of the three gave the store six minutes of “free” coverage.
    • Four prime-time TV news spots mentioned Shale and its particular brand of clothing, service, and ambiance.
    • Local dailies covered the opening on four separate occasions, twice with photos. A local business publication did an extensive feature on Mark Shale, its philosophy, and service orientation to business.
  • Mark Shale succeeded in getting its messages out. One of its chief downtown competitors lauded the success of the store’s opening-period publicity and communications, saying: “The best thing about Shale’s opening was its public relations.”
  • Opening-period sales volume exceeded that of any other Mark Shale store opening year.
  • Shale proved that “selling by service,” along with targeted public relations, have a positive effect on the bottom line. Small wonder that GQ went on to name the store chain one of the nation’s best retailers in its annual retailer recognition issue.
  • Said Scott Baskin, Mark Shale’s president, “This store opening was our best ever.”
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